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May 17, 2004

Mixed Blood scores a coup, premiere, more

From: Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN - May 17, 2004

Graydon Royce, Star Tribune
May 18, 2004

Mixed Blood Theatre, which last fall produced the regional premiere of Pulitzer-winner "Topdog/Underdog," has scored another coup, securing the Twin Cities rights for Richard Greenberg's "Take Me Out," the 2003 Tony winner for best play. Artistic director Jack Reuler has announced a 2004-05 season that also includes a world premiere by playwright Jane Martin, a bilingual piece from Twin Cities composer Victor Zupanc and a new work for young audiences on deaf culture.

Martin's "Flags" opens the season, Oct. 6-31. It is being produced in association with the Guthrie Theater, which commissioned the work as part of the new play program headed by Michael Bigelow Dixon. Martin dramatizes the issues of patriotism when a Vietnam War veteran grieves his son's death in Iraq by hanging a flag upside down -- a signal for distress -- outside his house. Martin's "Good Boys" was produced at the Guthrie Lab in 2002 and although the Guthrie developed this piece, it couldn't accommodate "Flags" in its new season. The content demanded it get on stage as soon as possible.

In November, Mixed Blood revisits playwright Thomas Gibbons, who wrote one of the best shows of the company's 2000 season, "Bee-luther-hatchee." Gibbons' new work, "Permanent Collection" addresses the space that is accorded to African art in modern museums. A black art director and a white curator square off in a battle over the role of a revered art collection that includes the great Impressionists and overlooked African masterpieces. Warren Bowles, who directed "Bee-luther-hatchee," also oversees this work, which runs Nov. 3-28.

Playwright Sujata Bhatt's "Queen of the Remote Control," directed by Aditi Kapil, opens Feb. 16. The play focuses on a Silicon Valley family that is dealing with the cultural disconnect between first- and second-generation Indian immigrants. A 17-year-old girl hooked on TV sits at the fulcrum of the issue.

Zupanc has written "Found" with dramaturg Liz Engelman. Performed as a play-within-a-rock-concert, the work presents an adoptee from Colombia who returns to her native country to see her roots. Zupanc, who's made a mark as music director at Children's Theatre Company, draws from an eclectic palette of native Amazon music, Latin sounds, and American slide guitar. "Found" is Mixed Blood's annual bilingual production. Dates have not been set.

Greenberg's "Take Me Out" caps the season, which leaves it open to an extension. The Tony winner tells the story of a biracial baseball star who throws the Major Leagues a curve when he announces he is gay. Greenberg chronicles the fallout through the eyes of teammates, media and fans. The play's diverse cast recalls Mixed Blood's last baseball play, "A League of Nations," which reflected the many nationalities represented in baseball. In addition to best play, "Take Me Out" also delivered a performance Tony for Denis O'Hare as the player, Mason Marzac. Mixed Blood's production is scheduled for April 13-May 22.

A new, short work, "Deaf Duckling," will tour next spring. Kapil wrote the piece with Nicole Zapko, a talented young deaf actor. It uses the spine of "The Ugly Duckling" to tell of a young woman who is born deaf to a hearing family. In addition to the tour, the play will be shown at Mixed Blood's West Bank theater.

Information is available at 612-338-6131 or

Graydon Royce is at

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